Samantha was fed up. Her job was frustrating and her supervisor was uninspiring. Then one day a recruiter called with the job of her dreams. 10 minutes into the conversation, Samantha could see herself in a bigger office, making double her current salary, and working for the boss of her dreams. “I’m very interested!” she told the recruiter. And she began the process of interviewing for her dream job.
Ten interviews and four months later, Samantha was certain this job was hers. She had bonded with the recruiter, who called her regularly and coached her through the long interview process. She had met with multiple people at the hiring company and she thought things went well. But several weeks had gone by since her last meeting and she hadn’t heard any news. When she called the recruiter for an update, he didn’t return her calls.
Like most people, Samantha didn’t fully understand the top 10 things every manager should know about working with executive recruiters.
1-Executive recruiters work for client companies, not individuals. Despite how friendly and understanding the recruiter is, he is not an objective player. The recruiter’s time and attention will go to the candidate most likely to close the search.
2-All job criteria are not always listed in the job description. Job descriptions are typically written by a recruiter, and sometimes miss the mark when it comes to how a company will evaluate the right person for the job. Issues like personality and fit with the company culture are often overlooked in the job description but become critical in the interview process. This is why recruiters are sometimes caught off guard when they send a candidate with the perfect resume into an interview and she fails to impress the client.
3-The average executive search takes 5-6 months to complete. If you are one of the first candidates interviewed, you may be in for a long wait as the recruiter searches the market for top candidates.
4-Only 2/3 of most executive searches are ever completed. The reasons for searches remaining incomplete can include lack of internal agreement about the role, reorganization, or the surfacing of an internal candidate.
5-Recruiters regularly practice “keeping candidates warm.” That is, keeping 2nd and 3rd choice candidates in play while the client company negotiates an offer with its first choice. If this is the case, most recruiters will not tell you what is actually happening with the search. Your waiting time can drag on for over a month while negotiations are resolved. Still, it can be worth the wait if you ultimately get the job.
6-Relationships matter. If you have relationships within the hiring company who can put in a good word for you, use them. Hiring managers are risk averse and are not always trained at assessing candidates. For this reason, people frequently rely on referrals they can trust.
6-Your reputation follows you. It is not uncommon for a recruiter to make a few calls to former coworkers to get some background on you without asking for your permission. Make sure you know your reputation in the marketplace.
7-All contact with an executive recruiter is documented. Recruiting firms maintain huge, confidential databases that track each conversation with you. If you tell someone from the New York office your current salary and career goals, his fellow recruiters in Los Angeles, London, and Chicago will also know immediately. Be diplomatic and strategic with your communications with recruiters.
8-Executive recruiters are not therapists or coaches. When you speak with a recruiter about your career, you should not have any expectations of confidentiality unless you have a longstanding relationship with them and have built a basis for this trust.
9-Recruiters are busy. A typical recruiter will work on as many as 7-10 searches at once, interacting with hundreds of potential candidates. Consequently, they may not be able to take the time to communicate with you despite having the best intentions. Do not take it personally if your recruiter does not call you back. Continue to check in every few weeks until you get a response.
10-How you are introduced to a recruiter matters. Recruiters will track who referred you, although they may not divulge this information to you. If you were referred by a trusted source, they will be much more likely to contact you about future opportunities.
This brings us back to Samantha. She may not know it yet, but her positive interaction with a recruiter can still yield great results down the line. If she does not get this job but handles the experience professionally, someone from the recruiting firm will likely call her again soon.
Tracy L. Lawrence is a management consultant who works with business organizations and individuals on executive search, executive assessment, leadership coaching and organizational development.